(1)Japanese Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty Development Team Principal Investigator : Paper Coordinator : Content Writer : Content Reviewer : Prof

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Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

Development Team Principal Investigator :

Paper Coordinator : Content Writer : Content Reviewer :

Prof. Anita Khanna

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Prof. H.S. Prabhakar

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Prof. H.S. Prabhakar & Ms. Nidhi Prasad

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Prof. Konsam Ibo Singh

Manipur University, Imphal Paper No. : 11 Japanese History and Society

Module : 31 The San-Francisco Peace Treaty



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

Description of Module

Subject Name Japanese

Paper Name Japanese History and Society Module title The San-Francisco Peace Treaty Module ID JPN-P11-M31

Quadrant 1 E-Text



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

The San-Francisco Peace Treaty


This module aims to discuss Japan’s position in the international system after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic explosions by the United States marking the end of the Second World War. The San Francisco Peace Treaty is the peace treaty signed with Japan by forty eight nations in San Francisco on 8 September 1951. It formally institutionalized post-war Japan in the world.

Overnight, Japan had to shed its image as an aggressor to that of a pacifist nation. And the United States occupied Japan for eight years- democratized, demilitarized the country.

Japanese identity had drastically shifted in a century from articulating complete autonomy in international politics and economy to complete dependence on the United States. Besides understanding these, you also get to know that there are varied perspectives: Is Japanese dependence on United States- a strategic choice or a hasty decision? Was it made under duress?

Japanese diplomacy now consisted of: the values espoused by the United Nations Charter, emphasis on domestic economic reconstruction and the US-Japan security alliance as a strong pillar of Japanese defense and security policy.

The End Game

The Second World War happened between years 1941-1945. The war spanned in different areas of Europe and the Pacific. It was fought between the Allied powers comprising of Britain, United States of America, and former Soviet Union, France against the Axis powers of Italy, Germany and Japan. While Italy had surrendered in 1945, Germany was still fighting with residual forces and Japan in Pacific Asia pursuing an all-out strategy on a losing front. The Allied Powers represented by Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Stalin decided to meet at Yalta (Crimea) on 11th February 1945 to discuss the international order after the War to ensure peace and stability.

The outcome of SF conference reflected a dissection of American and Soviet Union’s spheres of influences and ‘territorial trusteeships’ in Europe (Germany, Italy, Poland and Yugoslavia) and Asia-Pacific (Japan, and China)i. The Conference proved a huge diplomatic success for United



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

States- because all countries agreed to the establishment and membership of an international organization, the United Nations and trusteeship over Japan ensuring its strategic interests are secured in the Asia-Pacific.

The Yalta Conference outlined and limited Soviet intervention in Japan and the Pacific War to preclude a Soviet demand for more reparations or territorial control in this part of the globe.

United States, Britain and the Soviet Union states three conditions on which the latter can launch a war with Japan. Later on August 10th 1945 (after the atomic explosions) Soviet Union launched a war over Japan and until now Japan and the erstwhile Soviet Union have not signed a peace treaty. The Yalta Conference also termed as a ‘Yalta System’ led to the bipolar tensions in the Asia-Pacific. As United States ensured its control over Japan, the Soviet Union agreed to assist and ally with China. Thus East Asia was divided between the US and Soviet Union in a two different political and economic systems and national ideology.

After the Yalta Conference and before the atomic explosions, the Potsdam Declaration was signed between the United States, the Republic of China and Britain on 26 July 1945. The Potsdam Declaration pronouncing the ‘unconditional surrender’ of Japan warning of ‘inevitable and complete destruction of Japanese armed forces, and utter devastation of the Japanese homeland’ii. Japan did not pay heed to this declaration and thus America justified the use of the atomic weapons to halt Japan’s ‘irresponsible militarism’.

The Pacific War was concluded with the Japanese surrender over the USS Missouri in September 1945. The Allied forces then met at Yalta to decide the terms of peace in East Asia. Ultimately on 8th September 1951, a treaty of Peace was signed between Japan and the United States and other Allied powers to ensure a period of equal, international relations.



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

Figure 1: The Japanese delegation arrives on USS Missouri to sign surrender, (Source: National Archives NWDNS- 111-SC-210626)

Post World War II Asia-Pacific

Several scholars have noted the role of Imperialist Japan’s aggression in East Asia and the Pacific which was instrumental in uprooting colonialism. The vacuum of a major power in the region (with the fall of Japan, China), led the Allies of the Second World War who were the victors to design a comprehensive plan of peace and stability in the region. The United States in particular was tasked with preparing a stable international order after the Second World War. It emerged victorious, strong and rich and decided to design a liberal democratic order, create institutions and provide security to different regions.

America went ahead and formulated the San Francisco Peace Treaty recognizing that the tensions were building up and head to fuse its strategic and national security interests with those



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

of regional peace and stability. The signing of the Treaty underlined the proceedings of the Yalta conference.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was not formed in 1949, but neither PRC nor Republic of China was invited to sign this treaty. Soviet Union participated in the conference but did not sign the treaty. India withdrew its support from the treaty. The “loss of China” weighed heavy on the Americans who had supported the Nationalists (Kuomintang) represented by Chiang kai Shek.

Subsequently, divisions in Germany ensued with Berlin Blockade of 1948, Soviet and American divergence of opinion on how to govern post war Europe. Similarly, in 1950 for the first time, the Cold War sparked in Asia, as North Korea invaded the South. And with the entrance of communist China into the Korean War, the political map of East Asia became divided along Cold War linesiii.

It identified Japan as a strong and able partner to be the bulwark against communism. Japan under Yoshida Shigeru began to debate on the role and identity of Japan in a postwar security environment. By depending on the United States, Japan hoped to retain its value under favorable conditions. Thus during the Cold War, the paradigm of a pragmatic and opportunistic adaptation to the international order first established by the Meiji Restoration once again became the focus of national policy (Pyle, 212).

The United States concerned over developments on Korean Peninsula, looked at prospects of Japanese rearmament while Japanese declined, citing domestic pressures and bad economic conditions to support this plan. The US planned to draft an Allied peace treaty with Japan keeping further strategic interests in mind. And Japan too was deliberating on its security policy post the peace treaty. The US recognized the value of Japan, rear support to American operations in Korea. And Yoshida wanted to sustain the alliance with US.

Hence both agreed to draft a security treaty after the peace treaty devoid of any clauses or conditions forcing Japan to rearm. In return, Yoshida agreed to set up a 50,000 member land and sea (nascent) “security force” under a Security Planning Headquarters under a “Ministry of



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

National Security”iv. This was a short-term decision to affirm the United States of Japanese seriousness of Japanese contribution to UN led action. Japan also realized that it could postpone or avoid the question of rearmament for the time being because of the timing of regional security crisis and shifting circumstances of US strategic interests. The US needed Japan as an economic and military ally against the Iron Curtain and Japan needed America to ensure peaceful postwar economic development and provide for external security. And US would be compelled to secure Japan territorially because of the presence of its troops on the land.

Thus the peace treaty was signed with Japan, United States and the Allied powers to ensure Japan’s participation in the liberal democratic order. And consequently the bilateral Security Treaty was signed between America and Japan stating the rationale to begin an alliance to deal with expanding Communist threat. Post the signing of the Treaty, on 28 April 1952 United States occupying force returned back. Thus within less than a decade, Japan transformed from being an autonomous player to that of a patronage under the United States. And within a decade, the United States’ propaganda against Imperialist Japan pressuring the country to demilitarize for international peace and stability found itself nudging the Japanese to re-arm for the same reasons.

Tenets of the Peace Treaty

The San Francisco Peace Treaty has a Preamble and seven chapters which deal with issues related to peace, territory, security, political and economic clauses, claims and property and settlement of disputesv. Japan by virtue of this treaty surrendered all its positions in Taiwan, the Northern Territories, Paracel and Spratly islands and the Pacific islands (Chapter two). Japan resigned the Ryukyu island or Okinawa to American administration, legislation and jurisdiction over territory, inhabitants of the islands and the islands including their territorial waters (Article three, chapter two). The Yalta Conference and Potsdam Declaration (of July 26 1945) dealt with organization of international relations in East Asia. Japan was granted the right to collective self defense based on Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the right to voluntarily enter into collective security arrangements (chapter three). Japanese coercive diplomacy and military strategy and tactics were undermined and underlined as the treaty obligates Japan to refrain in



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

international relations from the threat or use of force against territorial integrity or political independence of any state (chapter three).

Occupation forces of the Allied powers were to be withdrawn but the treaty stated that based on any multilateral or bilateral agreement, foreign armed forces could still be stationed on Japanese soil. This could be interpreted in light of the American Occupation of Japan and the subsequent justification of the alliance. All treaties, pacts and arrangements made during the Wars would be nullified. And Article 11 of the fourth chapter of the Peace Treaty requires Japan to accept Japanese participation in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and the other Allied War Crimes Courts within and outside Japan. Chapter Five of the Treaty speaks of claims on property and deals with Japanese reparations to the countries of Asia-Pacific and the Allied Powers. It is later noted, that as a historic gesture of China, reparations was cancelled to the Chinese.

Implications of the Peace Treaty:

On Japanese Identity

The Peace Treaty at the outset confirms Japan’s role in the international system simultaneously tapping the potential as a geopolitical base for American strategy in the Asia-Pacific. Scholars note, there “ was a program for turning Japan from a conquered and occupied country to a military ally, frankly aimed at responding to the rising power of the Soviet Union and China in the Asia-Pacific region"vi. Japan was the “shield” to America’s “sword”. “Japan was not expected to play a military role in American strategy”, rather as a “showcase of political stability and economic development” rather than fall towards communismvii. Japan gained tremendously from the postwar security engagement with the United States as its security and economic interests were more than fulfilled. The United States co-opted Japan into the liberal internationalist economic order in all the multilateral bodies- Bretton Woods institutions- General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1955, financial and technological assistance, plus market dominance.



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

Japan had to also pay up for this sweet bargain. As Makoto Iebe notes, the signing of the peace treaty with the Allied powers meant, a delayed peace treaty with the Communist bloc, including its neighbor the People’s Republic of China. Scholars have noted how US nearly ‘coerced’ or mutually decided with Japan, that Japan would sign a peace treaty with the Republic of China in 1952 and continue to recognize the seat of the United Nations Security Council belonging to the legitimate government of China until 1972.

The failure to gain Okinawa was another issue as was the inequality and asymmetry in the alliance relationship. The United States still gained legal jurisdiction over Okinawa (to an extent over Japan) as could use its troops to subdue any protests or movement that threatened the peace and security of Japan. Towards this in 1960 Nobusuke Kishi signed the revised security treaty with the United States. And in 1972 Okinawa was returned to Japanese sovereignty.

Japanese identity and foreign policy was defined within the framework of its security policy during this period. The responsibility of external security and involvement in strategic affairs was issued to its ally, the Americans while Japan focused extensively on the re-construction of its economy and the nation. This calculated strategy of Japan, of seika bunri, separating politics from economics is credited to Japan’s then Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru. This is also termed as the Yoshida Doctrine.

Yoshida resisted calls for rearmament by citing domestic legal shortcomings in the form of Article 9 of the Constitution. Article 9 was drafted with the help of occupying forces to ensure that Japan refrains from possessing a military posture and using force or threat of use of force. It justified the imperative of American security guarantees, thus Japan’s rise to an economic superpower status began with this strategic calculation. It institutionalized individual self defense but not collective self-defense (where Japan could come to rescue of United States in the times of a crisis), this situation prevailed till September 2015 as Japan passed a set of security laws voluntarily altering its basic position.



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty On East Asia:

Scholars note that the alliance during this point of time diverted flames of potential conflict with Japan. The alliance has been described as the “Cap in the bottle”, whereby Japan’s militaristic aggression and irresponsible expansionism was curtailed because of American presence, and legal structures (in the form of Article 9) in place. Thus it has issued assurances over the rate and depth of Japanese re-armament. The alliance remains stable as during turbulent times because of the security umbrella, Japan does not seek for self-help measures like increase defense budget or set off an arms race or cause any military conflicts by setting off a security dilemma. This restraint of Japan is integral part of the US hegemonic order in East Asia.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty and the US Alliance System

The international order post the war was organized by the United States whereby a military alliance structure was designed in the Atlantic and the Pacific. In the Atlantic, America along with Western Europe signed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949, a multilateral security treaty to contain the spread of communism. Meanwhile as discussed earlier, America’s alliance system in the Pacific was bilateral, and also aimed at containing communism in the Asian continent. Germany’s fate was sealed differently than Japan’s in both these two geopolitical spheres. While Germany was re-militarised within NATO, simultaneously multilateralism and regionalism in Europe led to the eventual formation of European Union whereby disputes and tensions between neighbors were erased. Unfortunately in the case of Asia-Pacific, Japan due to legal limitations, domestic pressures, and external environment has not been able to alter its security posture. Additionally, Asia-Pacific does not have a multilateral regional security institution. Also Cold War tensions, pressure points still exist in Asia. Japan and Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union) have not yet signed a Peace Treaty and the Korean Peninsula still remains ideologically divided into North and South, with two different political and economic systems without any conclusion of peace. Thus the US alliance network in Asia- Pacific is aimed at minimizing tensions and sustaining regional stability.



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

It was the Peace Treaty that confirmed and recognized Japan’s role as a sovereign, responsible state in the western liberal order. And the Security Treaty with US “by granting them the ability to project power from Japan toward other potential hotspots in East-Asia most notably the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, the alliance functioned as a central part of the US alliance designed to deter communist aggression and maintain balance of power in the Asia-Pacific regionviii.

The San Francisco had an another implication on international peace and stability as it became the San Francisco System whereby US signed other bilateral security treaties with Philippines, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand to form a structural security arrangement.

Eisenhower famously termed the US bilateral alliance network in East Asia as a “hub-and-spoke”

system with force and responsibility concentrated in the hub and military base/logistics/supplies distributed to the spokes. This bilateral system was meant to sustain Western values and democratic principles in East Asia, provide a security umbrella to the allies, serve as a deterrent against erstwhile Soviet Union as well as limit the tendencies for nuclear break out or militaristic aggression of the East Asian allies. Thus an asymmetric military alliance was established with Japan along with South Korea and Taiwan to serve as pactrum de contrahendo or pacts of restraint (Schroeder, 1945) which was retained in the deterrence relationships as well. This exercise of subtle control in an asymmetric alliance referred to as “power play” worked distinctly in the U.S.-Japan alliance in contradistinction to the other East Asian allies. The power play in this relationship was to “win Japan” as an ally—that is, to exercise decisive influence over Japan’s transformation from a defeated wartime power into a status quo power supportive of U.S.

interests in the region, thereby limiting the potential for renewed aggression (Cha, 2010). The Yoshida Doctrine along with the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 reflected in the mutual acceptance of the respective roles in the alliance.

The San Francisco Alliance system and the 21 Century

Presently, international relations in the Asia-Pacific is dominated by the themes articulated in this module here. Firstly, the San Francisco Alliance System still exists after the Cold War



Japanese History and Society The San-Francisco Peace Treaty

despite the collapse of the Soviet Union against whom the system was erected in the first place.

Secondly, East Asian relations are still characterized by Cold War tensions over the Korean peninsula or between China and Japan. Thirdly, Japan’s foreign policy continues to be defined within its security policy. Fourthly, the bilateral security with the United States (revised in 1960) still exists. Fifthly, the alliance is undergoing a strategic transformation as the alliance is becoming “global” in scope. This translates into a more equal burden sharing between the two allies. Japan is en route to passing the security bills which allows for re-interpretation of the collective self-defense with respect to attacks against Japan. As the international environment in the Asia-Pacific transforms, the new challenges of the 21 century manifested in different domains of warfare such as cyberspace and outerspace, the alliance has to transform as well.


i The Yalta Conference, Avalon Project, Yale School of Law, URL: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/yalta.asp, Accessed 30 September 2015.

ii The Potsdam Declaration, URL: http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/ps/japan/potsdam.pdf, Accessed 30 September 2015.

iii Makoto Iokibe (ed.), The Diplomatic History of Postwar Japan, Routeledge: Oxon, p. 51.

iv Ibid., p. 53.

v The San Francisco Peace Treaty, URL: https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20136/volume-136-


vi John Price (2001), “A Just Peace? The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty in Historical Perspective” , No. 78, Japan Policy Research Institute, URL: http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp78.html, Accessed 30

September 2015.

vii Akira Iriye, “War, Peace and U.S.-Japanese Relations” in Akira Iriye and Warren I.Cohen (eds.), The United States and Japan in the Postwar World, University Press of Kentucky: Lexington.p.206.

viii Nigel Thalakada, Unipolairty and the Evolution of America’s Cold War Alliances, p.64.




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